The Texas pastor remembers meeting Dallas Wiens on several occasions, though he didn't know him well. Dallas' grandparents, Del and Sue Peterson, prayed for years that Dallas would return to the faith he once embraced as a child growing up under their influence at Ridglea Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
Sue Peterson always believed God had special plans for Dallas. A former Sunday School teacher of Dallas', Darla Mahan, had the same impression. Little did anyone imagine that God would use a tragic accident at the church to accomplish those plans.
From the beginning of his proverbial wilderness wandering at about age 14 "till the time I got hurt, I always knew God was God. I couldn't deny He was there," Weins said.
But Wiens went his own way. Following high school, an Army stint that ended prematurely with a knee injury, dashing hopes of Ranger school, a failed marriage and broken relationships, God put Wiens in a position to hear, and ironically, to see.
His brush with a high-voltage wire -- which took his sight and left his face severely disfigured -- is a blessing he says he wouldn't trade.
"He has just a real maturity about where he is and his understanding of Christ and his view of the world," said Cox, who meets with Wiens regularly. "There is an acceptance of what happened to him as God's providence. He has a very strong view of the sovereignty of God.
"He's not angry at God over it at all."
Wiens spends a good deal of time in the Word, especially with what he calls an "addiction" to Old Testament wisdom literature in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. He also sees the beauty of people made in God's image.
"The only thing I can see is their heart," Wiens said of people he encounters. "And I was a pretty judgmental person when I was sighted. There is more beauty in people than what we see with our eyes. Being blind has given me the ability to really know others" -- what he calls a "serious gift of discernment."
The vanity spoken of in Ecclesiastes resonates with Wiens.
"We worry about so much that doesn't matter. Cars, houses, wedding rings, whether one's spouse is the most attractive," Wiens said. "We have the ability to stop those stressors. But we don't. And Solomon sums it up: It doesn't matter."
Wiens said he appreciates Cox, his pastor at Ridglea Baptist Church, because "he's not detached."
"I feel enlightened every time we end our conversation. I am blessed," Wiens said.
Cox said he is the one who goes away from their conversations most blessed.
"Dallas' story is an example of how God will pursue one of His people," Cox said. "I kind of think about Jonah. That accident was Dallas' fish and he sees it that way too. It lets you know the temporal things of this life are fleeting. His eternal life is more important than what we experience in the physical. We put so much emphasis on the physical and natural and it's not worthy to be compared to the eternal.
"That's so much more important and Dallas sees that," the pastor said. "He's willing to go through the handicaps he has now, but his eternity is certain, he knows God loves him and he is at peace with God."
Wiens, who is waiting for facial transplant surgery in Boston, said he feels tested every day.
"Being blind after 23 years of sight is not the easiest thing. But the blindness has taught me so much," he said.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, on the Web at texanonline.net.
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